Public officials, police and utilities officers gathered at the corner of Coldwater Canyon Avenue and Ventura Boulevard Monday to explain the potential problems that will be caused when this major thoroughfare over the hill will be closed for more than a month.
“We will be fixing trunk lines in other parts of the city in upcoming years, but this will be the worst,” said Los Angeles Department of Water and Power Senior General Manager James McDaniel. “We are not doing this at night because of the noise, and there are 250 homes right next to where this construction is going on.”
An estimated 25,000 to 30,000 cars travel through the windy canyon road from the San Fernando Valley to West Hollywood and Beverly Hills every day, McDaniel estimated.
The road will be closed between Ventura Boulevard and Mulholland Drive from March 23 to April 25 from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“It’s like going to the dentist, it will be over in no time,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky. However, he pointed out that the construction is expected to take five weeks.
Jackie Hunsicker, who lives at the top of Coldwater Canyon near Mulholland Drive just across from the said, “My neighbor told me about this just Saturday, I didn’t know anything about it!”
Hunsicker has guests coming from New York and Philadelphia for an engagement party of her niece on the first day of the street closure—March 23. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said, bringing her dog, Topper to the press conference.
Residents will get passes to go up and down the street, and special accommodations will be made for people when possible.
Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Krekorian, who represents this section of the road, made sure that Hunsicker met with the DWP and traffic officials at the press conference so that her concerns would be answered.
Krekorian was adamant that emergency crews will always have access in and out of the neighborhoods for any emergencies, especially after the emergency recently with the Harvard-Westlake swimmer who suffered a seizure and died at the school. He said that the school, which is along the stretch of the closed road, had made special plans and that emergency teams will be constantly monitoring access to the area. (See video.)
Krekorian pointed out that in 2009, the 99-year-old water line ruptured and flooded and ruined many businesses along Ventura Boulevard, and he said this will prevent it from happening again.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, who represents parts of Sherman Oaks and the hills along Mulholland Drive, said that he and Krekorian have asked the city in a motion to provide more police and traffic officers along the route and nearby to help the neighborhood.
Krekorian explained that the work cannot be done at night because of the heavy equipment and tight turns on the windy canyon road. Noise from construction in the night hours would echo through the canyon, disturbing more than just the nearby 250 houses along the route.
Yaroslavsky also pointed out that finding secret alternate routes are not a good idea.
“The small streets can’t handle the extra volume of traffic, you should just modify your driving habits, take the freeways or the subway,” the supervisor said. “Otherwise, you will be frustrated and just find gridlock.”
The politicians posed with a piece of rusted metal from the 60-inch 99-year-old pipe that is being replaced, and after they all held it up for pictures, Krekorian quipped, "Now we all have to get tetanus shots."
Another issue is that starting in less than a week, March 9, drivers cannot make a left turn from Coldwater Canyon onto Ventura Boulevard north or southbound. That is to help with construction preparation before the complete closure.
Outside of the press conference, Krekorian—who lives in Studio City and will directly be affected by the closure—said: “We will be monitoring and getting updates every single day on this construction and the progress.”
He added, “If we can get this done any faster in any way, we will do so, and we will let you know.”
Specifics of the DWP Press release and how to get updates are below:
LOS ANGELES (March 4, 2013) – The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) will be replacing a portion of the City Trunk Line, a 60-inch diameter pipeline that runs along Coldwater Canyon Avenue between Mulholland Drive and Ventura Boulevard, necessitating closure of the major Valley to Westside pass from March 23-April 25 to allow the full use of the street for construction equipment and crews. The LADWP is replacing the 99-year old pipe in sections with new welded steel pipe as part of an ongoing citywide upgrade to major pipelines that cross the city to ensure reliable service and to comply with federal water quality regulations.
Starting March 9th, no left turns will be allowed onto Ventura Blvd from Coldwater Canyon north and south bound as crews prepare for construction.
Closures begin Saturday, March 23, and are scheduled to continue through Thursday, April 25. The hours of closure are Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. After 7 p.m. each night (6 p.m. on Saturdays), and all day Sunday, one lane in each direction will be open for traffic.
"This is a vitally important project to ensure the continued safety and reliability of our drinking water," LA City Councilmember Paul Krekorian said. "I know how difficult it will be to drive through the area during this time, which is why I would urge all of us to find alternate routes during construction. While crews are working to repair this pipeline, my office will ensure that residents, businesses, schools and drivers are kept informed about this project and we will work with all city departments to ensure this is done as safely and efficiently as possible. I thank you in advance for your patience and cooperation."
"This is an important improvement, but it poses an impact and a challenge. LADWP needs to get this job done as quickly and safely as possible," added LA City Councilmember Tom LaBonge.
“Coldwater Canyon Avenue is one of our key trans-mountain routes, and there’s no question its month-long daytime closure will be a hardship to residents and commuters. But the water trunk-line replacement work’s got to be done, and I’m confident that people will cooperate with patience and understanding, with a final result that we can all be proud of,” said LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
In 2009, the City Trunk Line ruptured at Coldwater Canyon and Ventura Boulevard, causing flooding of area residents and businesses. Cost of repairs was over $700,000 and claims totaled nearly $8 million. Water loss was estimated at four million gallons.
Details of the closure were discussed earlier today at a morning press conference near the site of the 2009 rupture with Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Krekorian, who represents the area, joined by Councilmember Tom LaBonge and Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
A representative from the City Department of Transportation also discussed traffic mitigation plans that include electronic signage, traffic control officers, new striping to guide motorists through the area.
Motorists are urged to avoid the area during the closure and take alternate routes, including: Laurel Canyon Blvd.; Beverly Glen Blvd., Sepulveda Blvd., Cahuenga Blvd./Highland Avenue and Interstate 405. During peak commuting hours, Coldwater Canyon carries approximately 1,300 vehicles per hour.
The LADWP has worked closely with Councilmember Krekorian and his staff, as well as community groups and others, to ensure that their concerns and issues are addressed to the extent possible.
Special access permits will be issued to area residents and schools, including Harvard-Westlake, and other facilities along Coldwater between Mulholland Drive and Ventura Boulevard. The actual construction zone is from Dickens Street to Hacienda Drive, where most of the work will occur.
“This project poses particular challenges – on an engineering level and for how to mitigate impacts for those who live, work or travel through this area of the City,” said James B. McDaniel, Senior Assistant General Manager, Water System. “The quality and reliability of your water service is our priority at the LADWP, and we are going to work as quickly and safely as possible to get this job done. We appreciate your understanding and patience.”
For information about the closure, please visit www.ladwp.com. To receive e-mail updates on construction progress during the closure, please visit LADWP’s online newsroom and sign-up to receive updates here. Select “City Trunk Line – Coldwater Canyon Construction” from the dropdown menu, or follow @LADWP on Twitter.